Well the Appalachian Trail is over…so what’s next? Rather than pursuing other long distance hikes, such as the PCT or the CDT, I’ve set my focus on climbing some real mountains. Long term, I’m shooting for Mt. Rainer, Denali and Aconcagua, but you have to learn to walk before you can run. So, short term I’m focusing on indoor and outdoor rock climbing with the goal of climbing Mt. Hood in Oregon early this summer.
Mt. Hood is considered a novice mountain for aspiring mountaineers, but still requires training in basic rock climbing, top rope set-up, glacier traverse and crevasse rescue techniques, not to mention being in great shape. As soon as I got set up with my new job and apartment in South Jersey, I joined the local rock climbing gym. It’s so much fun that I have to force myself to skip days to allow my muscles to recover. I’ve signed up for rock climbing training classes through EMS that I will be attending throughout the winter and into the spring. It feels good to be actively working toward another adventure.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm and work ethic have been tempered the last two months with various injuries that are extremely frustrating. Plantar fasciitis has continued to plague my foot since I walked through Pennsylvania, though returning to barefoot walking and running has led to dramatic improvement.
While hiking through Harriman State Park in New York recently, I suddenly started to feel nautious, weak, and extremely cold about 3 miles into the woods. I stumbled back to my car and discovered that I had a fever of 102 degrees when I got home.
The next week, I fainted in my bathroom in the middle of the night and hit the back of my head on the bathtub. A severe concussion forced me to do literally nothing for nearly 10 days (I literally couldn’t even read) before my concussion symptoms subsided. I had to skip a few days of work and missed all 10 days at the rock climbing gym. I guess I should feel pretty lucky, though – I probably should’ve broken my neck the way I fell.
When I finally woke up without a headache, I jumped back into rock climbing with renewed vigor. After just 2 sessions, I started to suffer from biceps tendonitis near my elbow. One of the veterans at the gym grimaced when I asked him about the condition and said I should stay away for at least 2 weeks before resuming very slowly.
The most frustrating aspect of all these injuries is that they’ve occurred despite the fact that I haven’t done anything stupid or reckless like I usually do. I feel fragile and nothing could be more demoralizing – I can’t stand being fragile or weak. While I struggle to find the patience to deal with tendonitis, I know deep down that there’s no use in pushing the issue and just hurting myself more. I just need to focus on other types of activities until I can return to the rock climbing wall.
On a brighter note, I drove up to Massachusetts to visit Legs and Verge this past weekend for an action packed weekend of winter hiking. There’s more on that in my next post.